Wednesday 22 May 2024: Magpies are clever

image courtesy of pixabay (no credit came up)

I’m not used to being in the house on my own yet and during the night on Monday/Tuesday, I woke up at about 3:30am thinking I could hear noises. I probably could, or I might have dreamed them, but it spooked me a bit and took me a while to go off again. Nevertheless, I still got up when my alarm went off and I’m getting better at doing things by the Pomodoro instead of dragging them out all day.

The poet called the night before with some good news. He doesn’t have to work when he goes to Poland in a few weeks, other than as a guest on a panel. So he’s taking some annual leave days and he’s taking me with him. To Poland! I’ve never been to Poland, so now I have more research to do before we go. We’re not going anywhere famous, I don’t think, or even close to anything. But I’m sure it will be interesting all the same.

At my desk the first thing I did was transfer the outline for my 12 STORIES IN 12 MONTHS story to Plottr so I could make more sense of it, and when I was happy with it, I transferred it to Scrivener. These passes give me more time to add in or remove anything and it should mean I can just write the story in Scrivener almost on auto-pilot.

I had a bit of a break, answered a few emails, caught up on Facebook, etc, then returned to the story. I was just getting in the swing of it when my Pomodoro ended. I carried on to a place where I thought I might be able to pick it up again. I put the kettle on, fed the garden birds, and folded washing out of the tumble dryer.

I made the mistake of having some biscuits (chocolate digestives) with my cup of tea and that meant I didn’t feel like anything to eat at dinner time. So I pushed through and got back to the page. I finished the story, writing almost 2,000 words. Less than 500 to lose in editing.

This story was completely brand-new. It wasn’t one I’d prepared earlier and just lifted a section to tweak to fit the prompt. It’s one I wrote from a proper idea gleaned from one of my date-work sessions more than a year ago. The way I made it work was to make it a Stevie Beck story, or a very short Horvale mystery story.

It was a great exercise to ‘meet’ 2 of my main characters, sleuth and policeman, from the other Horvale stories, which are loosely based on the Tarot. Stevie is a natural when it comes to the Tarot. But she doesn’t realise it and she’s learning about it at the same time that I am. She initially doesn’t believe in such ‘mumbo jumbo’ and calls anything like that ‘codswallop’.

I used this story to introduce her to her own powers, without going too far into the Twilight Zone, and to introduce the relationship between these characters. It’s probably a load of rubbish. Then again, when I come to revise it today, I might yet impress myself still. Fingers crossed.

It was almost 3pm by now and I was starting to feel a bit hungry. I still had tasks to do, namely the Halloween cosy mystery novella and the editing job. But I had to eat. So I took another break before cracking on with the next job on the list. However, I also took it in the living room, away from my desk.

I read a chapter of HOLY ISLAND while I had a quick snack. I’m not yet overly impressed with it, but I’m trying to get over myself and push through, read it to the end. It’s one of the paid for top 50 cosy mysteries I bought the day before, but it irritated me because the author is using ‘which’ instead of ‘that’, and rather too often.

People often claim that they don’t like the use of ‘that’, but unless a comma goes in front of the ‘which’, in this context, then I’m afraid it’s ‘that’. Just because you don’t like a word, doesn’t mean it’s not the right word, grammatically speaking. (Yes, I’ve had people say they don’t like ‘that’ so won’t use it.) And this author has picked up several hands full of ‘which’s and chucked them throughout the book.

If you don’t like it, or if there are too many of them, it’s easy enough to rewrite the sentence without. People are just too lazy to bother with thinking too hard about rewriting.

The other thing that bothers me is the head-hopping. The author had head-hopped in the same paragraph and the same sentence, even. But the one that got me was head-hopping at either end of a telephone call.

While these are both errors (it’s a third person limited for the most part, then suddenly gets omniscient), I’m also aware that they’re pet peeves of mine. So that’s why I need to push through and try and ignore them. Plus, the error often lies with the editor anyway.

The garden birds were hilarious yesterday.

First of all there was a young wood pigeon who was a bit scared to go and jump down onto the seed tray. He stayed on the fence and tried a couple of times before eventually landing on the top of the big water drinker, from where he watched, with caution, lots of little birds eating from the tray, too scared to join them. When 2 adult wood pigeons came down to feed, the youngster finally joined them.

A collared dove was trying to get off the roof of the bird table and onto the table, but kept giving up. At one point it joined a(nother) wood pigeon on the fence, who turned its head to stare at the collared dove for ages.

A family of 4 magpies came down to eat from the tray and one of the youngsters dropped something in the bird bath. While he was trying to get it out, he realised that, actually, it was quite good fun to have a bath! Its sibling watched it for a while before joining it, but it couldn’t find room. In the end, the 2nd young magpie went and got on the shallow water drinker and had a bath in there!

One of the magpies was begging but the other was mostly feeding itself, and this latter one also found the big water drinker. But it had to prop one foot on the edge while it drank, then it did the same to the food tray. It looked so funny with one leg on the rim and the other on the wall. Both youngsters fed themselves when they were on their own, but as soon as one of the parents was close, there they were begging to be fed.

So cute. Magpies are very clever.

I worked into the evening on the editing as this is the job I want off my desk by the end of the week. But I couldn’t stop watching the antics of the garden birds. I had roast chicken and jacket potato for tea, with butter and sweetcorn. The poet is coming home today. (Yay!)

2 thoughts on “Wednesday 22 May 2024: Magpies are clever

  1. Yay on your new story. That’s wonderful. Isn’t it fun when it comes together?

    Tried reading the book you mentioned and didn’t finish it. It annoyed me too much.

    Love your birds!

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